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Benefits and drawbacks of equity release

It's important you have all the facts available to make the right decision for you.

Watch our video to find out more about the benefits and drawbacks of equity release.


What are the benefits and drawbacks of equity release?

Like any financial product, equity release has potential benefits and drawbacks to weigh up.


  • Tax-free cash: You can unlock cash from your home, tax-free, to help meer your needs in later life

  • Stay in your home: You'll retain full ownership of your home and can stay in it for as long as you wish

  • Reduced or no monthly repayments: You can make reduced or no monthly repayments with a lifetime mortgage. This applies to a payment-term lifetime mortgage after the oldest applicant turns 66, and overpayments can be made at any time, subject to criteria

  • No negative equity guarantee: You'll never owe more than your home's worth or pass on any equity release related debt to your family, provided terms and conditions are met

  • A payment-term lifetime mortgage: Could allow you to unlock more of your home's value at a lower interest rate than a comparable lifetime mortgage


  • The interest can build up quickly: Lifetime mortgages and payment-term lifetime mortgages are loans secured against your home and are subject to compound interest, meaning the amount you owe can grow quickly

  • Reduced value of estate: Equity release will reduce the value of your estate and may affect your entitlement to means-tested benefits

  • Long term financial product: These are long-term financial products and are not designed to be repaid early. If you do, early repayment charges may apply

  • Reduced or no property equity: Equity release may leave you with limited or no property equity remaining and will reduce your financial options in the future

  • Mandatory payments: There's a period of mandatory payments with a payment-term lifetime mortgage, and your home may be repossessed if you don't keep up with these payments

We only recommend equity release if it's right for you

You have to receive qualified advice before taking out equity release, so you can be sure it's the right decision for you

All our equity release advice relates to Key lifetime mortgages and payment-term lifetime mortgages only - loans secured against your home.

Our fixed advice fee of £1,299 is only payable on completion. Equity release will reduce your estate's value and may affect your entitlement to means-tested benefits.

A lifetime mortgage or payment-term lifetime mortgage may result in limited or no property equity remaining and will reduce your financial options in the future.

What is an equity release calculator?

Our online equity release calculator will give you an idea of how much money you could release with Key's equity release. To get your personalised results, you'll just need to tell us the basic details about you and your property, and we'll be able to get your estimate to you in no time. From there, you can decide if equity release could be right for you.

How to use our free equity release calculator in 3 easy steps

  1. Fill out basic details about yourself and your property
  2. Press the calculate button
  3. See your personalised equity release calculation

If you're unsure about using our lifetime mortgage equity release calculator, contact our team directly or request a callback to discuss your equity release options.

Your equity release calculation explained

Your personalised equity release estimate is based on the information you provide us with in our equity release calculator. Your estimate will include:

  • The maximum amount you could release tax-free

  • An optional property eligibility assessment to help you establish if your property may be eligible for equity release

  • The chance to arrange a no-obligation consultation with one of our expert advisers to help understand your options

  • Info on other options, what costs you may have, and the flexible features of Key's equity release plans

Our UK equity release calculator uses two main factors to quickly work out how much tax-free cash you could release:

  • Property value: The minimum property value to be eligible for a lifetime mortgage is £70,000 – a higher property value may result in a higher equity release calculation

  • Age: All applicants must be aged 55 or over to qualify and you can usually release more equity the older you are. If you're applying as a couple, the amount of equity you could release will be based on the youngest applicant

 Property value is based on a range of factors such as size, location and condition. If you're not sure of your property value when using our equity release calculator, check what similar properties are going for in your area on websites like Rightmove. It's important to note this is an estimate. If you go ahead with equity release, the total amount available will be subject to an independent property survey.

The amount you could release is dependent on your personal circumstances and is subject to an independent survey of your property.

You'll also be able to download your estimate as a PDF document so that you can take the time to read through your equity release calculation.

Calculate now

Back to "What's in this guide?";

Do I qualify for equity release?

To qualify for an equity release plan, you must meet our eligibility criteria.

  • You must be aged 55 or over
  • You must own a property in the UK that is your main residence
  • Your property must meet a minimum valuation of £70,000 and be in reasonable condition

Even if you meet these requirements, it’s important to note that you can’t release equity without first taking advice from a qualified equity release adviser. This is a regulatory requirement.

Get in touch with our expert advisers today to find out if you're eligible. Alternatively, look via the eligibility checker on the results page when you use our online equity release calculator.

Calculate now


ⓘ Did you know...

If you're not eligible, why not try our later life mortgage finder? It may be that we can still help you take control of your later life finances with another product.

Back to "What's in this guide?";

How much equity could I release from my property?

Our online equity release calculator will give you a quick estimate of how much you could release based on the information you put into it. From here you can discuss your eligibility and whether equity release could be right for you with one of our qualified advisers.

If you meet the minimum eligibility requirements, we'll review the details you provided in your initial enquiry and give you a more accurate idea of the home equity you could release.

In 2023, Key customers had access to an average total facility of £78,334.

ⓘ Did you know...

The amount you can release will be based on the youngest applicant's age and your property value; it varies between people and properties. Use our UK equity release calculator above to get a quick estimate.

Is there a minimum amount I could release?

You'll need to release a minimum of £10,000. While it's also helpful to know the maximum amount you could release, our equity release advisers can help you borrow only as much as you need. Borrowing less will reduce the interest you pay and could help you access a lower interest rate. Here's our minimum borrowing limits:

Loan stage

Lump sum lifetime mortgage

Drawdown lifetime mortgage

Minimum initial loan



Minimum drawdown



*or the full balance if this is less than £2,000

No, the funds that you release are entirely tax-free.

However, your tax position could be affected. Find out more about the tax implications of equity release.

Your circumstances may change
Our equity release loan calculator will give you an estimate of how much you could release right now. Over time, your situation could change and you may be able to release more equity later depending on your circumstances.

Access your funds over time with a drawdown lifetime mortgage
If you choose a drawdown lifetime mortgage, you may be able to release portions of an agreed overall amount as you need following an initial release, subject to minimum drawdown amounts.

For additional drawdowns, the funder will calculate a rate of interest for each amount you release. The funder's rates for any new borrowing may be different to your existing plan and will be set at the prevailing rate at that time, which may be higher or lower than the original interest rate. A drawdown facility is not guaranteed as the lender has the right to withdraw it.

Alternatively, you might be able to release more funds if you didn't initially borrow the full amount available.

You could also access more money if your home has increased in value over time or if your health circumstances have changed. Read our guide to changing your equity release plan for more information.

What is the cost of equity release?

The total cost of borrowing is determined by the amount borrowed, interest rate and length of loan together with any fees incurred.

You may have a series of setup fees if you go ahead with equity release, depending on the recommmended product, adviser fees and the provider. You could use the money that you release to pay for some of these fees, although the fees would then be subject to compound interest. There are four fees that you may need to budget for:

Surveyor's valuation

  • If applicable, this is usually paid with your application

Solicitor's fees

  • This is typically paid when you receive your tax-free funds on completion

Lender's arrangement fee

  • If applicable, this is usually paid on completion when you receive your tax-free funds

Our advice fee

  • Our fixed advice fee of £1,299 is only payable on completion

There's usually nothing to repay on your lifetime mortgage until you or the last remaining applicant dies or moves into long-term care. However, you may choose to repay some or all of the monthly interest that accrues over the life of the mortgage.

This is something to consider if you have the financial means as it can reduce the amount that you owe in the end. Otherwise, the interest accrues and is added to the loan in the form of compound interest.

We offer cashback on some Key equity release plans, providing you're eligible and it's right for you. This is primarily used to reduce the loan amount, which could help reduce the overall cost of borrowing.

Partial repayments
You could be able to make voluntary partial repayments between 10-12% each year on the initial amount you borrow without incurring any early repayment charges. These repayments can reduce the long-term cost of your lifetime mortgage as compound interest will accrue on a smaller loan amount.

Early repayment charges
You may decide you want or need to repay part or all of your lifetime mortgage early, which may incur an early repayment charge.

All of our lifetime mortgages include fixed early repayment charges so you know what to expect before deciding if you want to repay early. Plus, if you want to downsize, you may be able to do so without facing an early repayment charge, subject to criteria. It's worth noting that a lifetime mortgage is a lifetime commitment and isn't designed to be repaid early.

Find out more about what equity release costs.

What interest rates are available for equity release?

Lifetime mortgage interest rates vary depending on the plan you take out and your circumstances.

With a lifetime mortgage, the interest accrues, then rolls up and is added to the loan. This is also known as compound interest. The interest rate you get will be specific to your circumstances and is fixed for the life of the loan.

Representative example

5.79% AER

Lowest rate with Key

6.54% AER

Rate most Key customers received, or less

6.74% APR

Overall cost for comparison

All rates correct as of 15th July 2024. This is based on customer data from the last 60 days, apart from Key’s lowest rate. Interest rate received and plan features are subject to eligibility. Ask for a personal illustration.

Interest rates explained

  • AER stands for Annual Equivalent Rate. It shows what the interest rate would be if interest was paid and compounded each year. 

  • APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate. It's the cost you pay each year to borrow money, including fees, expressed as a percentage. 

Our equity release calculator will give you an idea of how much you could release. Your equity release adviser will be able to give you more information on interest rates.

Calculate now

Back to "What's in this guide?"

How does compound interest work?

With a lifetime mortgage, the interest accrues, then rolls up and adds to the loan. This is also known as compound interest. The interest rate you get will be specific to your circumstances and fixed for the life of the loan.

  • The interest rate when your plan starts determines how quick interest grows. This will impact the total cost of borrowing over the term of the loan.
  • During the first period the interest is charged and added to the original loan amount. Following this, the interest is then calculated and charged on what you owe at the time. This is the original loan plus interest, not just the amount you initially borrowed.
  • This means a larger amount of interest adds to your lifetime mortgage each period. This cycle continues until the plan ends.

The interest is added either monthly or annually depending on your plan. There are ways you could reduce the total cost of borrowing of your lifetime mortgage.

ⓘ Illustrative example

Illustrative purposes only. It uses the average release amount of £82,475 and monthly equivalent rate (MER) of 6.3% – Key Market Monitor H1, 2023. Average UK house price of £288,000 – ONS, August 2023.

Year Balance at start of year Interest (6.3% MER)¹ Balance at end of year² Remaining property equity³
1 £82,475 £5,349 £87,824 £200,176
2 £87,824 £5,695 £93,519 £194,481
3 £93,519 £6,065 £99,584 £188,416
15 £198,778 £12,891 £211,669 £76,331
20 £272,153 £17,649 £289,802* £0

* The end of year balance is higher than the property's value. You'll never owe more than your home's worth, though, with a Key lifetime mortgage. This is the no negative equity guarantee.

¹ The rate at which interest adds to the loan – in this case, monthly (MER). All Key lifetime mortgages have a fixed interest rate for life. This column shows how much interest has added to the loan that year.
² How much is owed at the end of the year, including compound interest.
³ The difference between your property value and your outstanding lifetime mortgage balance.

Back to "What's in this guide?

How could a drawdown lifetime mortgage reduce my cost of borrowing?

You could save thousands over the course of your plan with a drawdown lifetime mortgage. This is because you only pay interest on the funds you release. Future drawdowns are subject to interest rates when you drawdown - not your original rate.

ⓘ Illustrative example

Illustrative purposes only. It uses the average release amount of £81,703 and monthly equivalent rate of 6.74% (future drawdowns will be charged at the prevailing interest rate) - Key Market Monitor Q1, 2023.


Mrs Lewis and Mr Davies both released £81,703. They took it in different ways to meet their needs. Over the same 15-year period, with the same total release, Mr Davies saved almost £32,851 in interest compared to Mrs Lewis.

Lump sum case study

Mrs Lewis

  • Mrs Lewis took her £81,703 in one go

  • Interest was charged on the full release from day one (monthly rate of 6.74%)

  • Total cost of borrowing after 15 years: £223,915

Drawdown case study

Mr Davies

  • Mr Davies took an initial loan of £51,703 from his facility

  • He took two £15,000 drawdowns in year 5 and 10 - interest was only charged when the funds were released

  • Total cost of borrowing after 15 years: £191,064

Over the same 15-year period, borrowing the same amount of money, Mr Davies saved almost £32,851 in interest charges compared to Mrs Lewis.

Back to "What's in this guide?

What are the different equity release plans?

There are four types of equity release available with Key in the UK. Find out more about them below.

Lifetime mortgage

  • For homeowners aged 55+ with a property worth £70,000+
  • A loan secured against your home
  • Release some of the tax-free funds from your home's value

Payment-term lifetime mortgage

  • For homeowners aged 55-62 with a property worth £125,000+

  • You could unlock more than a comparable lifetime mortgage

  • Mandatory payments until oldest applicant turns 66

Interest-payment lifetime mortgage

  • For homeowners aged 55+ with a property worth £99,000+

  • Reduced cost of borrowing with monthly interest payments

  • Receive an interest rate discount

Home reversion

  • For homeowners aged 65+
  • Sell all or part of your home to a reversion company for a tax-free cash lump sum
  • Available through Key Group

Our plans meet the Equity Release Council standards

All our plans meet the Equity Release Council standards, which offer various protections as standard, meaning you'll:

  • You have the right to stay in your property for as long as you choose, provided that terms and conditions are met

  • You have the freedom to move to another property without an early repayment charge (subject to criteria)

  • You'll never owe more than the value of your home with the no negative equity guarantee, provided that terms and conditions are met

  • Flexible features available including downsizing protection and partial capital repayments

Your home may be repossessed if you don't keep up with mandatory payments for a payment-term lifetime mortgage.

Back to "What's in this guide?"

What can I use equity release for?

You should have a good idea of your plans before using our lifetime mortgage equity release calculator – or you might need an estimate first. Either way, as a tax-free payment, you can use your equity release funds in a variety of ways such as:

"Our customers often use equity release to clear existing debts, such as a mortgage, credit cards or loans. It’s also used to financially support loved ones when they need it most, for example, contributing towards a child or grandchild’s first house deposit, as well as home improvements, with a large portion of our customers using some of their tax-free cash to make their property more enjoyable to live in or more accessible in later life." - Rachel East, Divisional Head of Advice

It's important to know that you should always think carefully before securing a loan against your home to repay existing debt.

Back to "What's in this guide?"

Why choose Key?

We're regulated experts

Key is regulated and a proud member of the Equity Release Council.

Trusted award-winners

We've won 80+ awards and are rated 'Excellent' on Trustpilot with 17,000+ reviews. This makes us the UK's most trusted equity-release specialist.

Highly experienced

We have over 25 years' experience. We've helped more than a million customers with tailored equity release advice. Once we've taken the time to understand your needs, we’ll have a sound idea of which plan is right for you.

Customer stories

Key has helped over one million people decide if equity release is right for them and we continue to help more enjoy a better retirement. Our customer stories provide examples of how our honest advice has helped thousands of people enjoy their later lives.

All members of Key I spoke to were helpful and friendly, nothing was too much trouble for them

Ms Kane

"I recommend Key to anyone looking to take out equity from their home. My request went through very quickly, I already have my money and am starting to do the projects I wanted the money for. I am very pleased with the outcome and Key's staff."

I must say that Key were very helpful and understanding through the whole process

Mr Griggs

"We were put under no pressure to complete and constantly told that we could back out at any point prior to completion. They fully explained all of the Implications and costs of what we were thinking of doing. We had our own adviser who was patient with us and explained everything to us. So if you are thinking about equity release I would recommend Key."

We used Key to provide funds to upgrade parts of our house

Mr Dennison

"The Company were professional, supportive and explained the process very clearly. The meetings with Key which were conducted on Zoom were informative and friendly and at no time did we feel pressured. It was a positive experience. We would recommend Key to anybody considering equity release."

Is equity release right for you?

Equity release helps thousands of homeowners across the UK take control of their finances so that they can live the later life they deserve. It's not right for everyone, though, so we've given some useful information on your other options to help reach your later life finance goals.

Explore how Key could help you put the life in later life – request your free, comprehensive guide today.

Your other options

Other options Key doesn't offer

  • Home reversion

  • Downsizing

  • Unsecured lending

  • Using existing assets

  • Support from friends or family

ⓘ If another product is more suitable, we'll refer you to a different adviser within Key Group who can help. If you go ahead, you'll only be charged the same £1,299 advice fee you'd pay with us, even if their fee is usually higher.

Equity release could affect your entitlement to means-tested benefits such as Pension Credit and Council Tax Reduction. It doesn't affect benefits that aren't means-tested, such as Winter Fuel Payment or free prescriptions.

We can discuss this topic with you during the application process, helping you make an informed decision about whether equity release is right for you. Alternatively, read our guide for more details – Will equity release affect your eligibility for benefits?

What are the next steps for releasing equity from my home?

To help you understand the process, we’ve put together these simple steps. They highlight what your journey to equity release could be like:

Use our free calculator

Check your eligibility and how much cash you could release with our equity release calculator.

Speak to an adviser

Book an appointment with a qualified equity release adviser at a time that's good for you.

Assess your options

Your adviser will recommend the most suitable product. Learn more about your later life mortgage options.

Our qualified equity release advisers are experienced in providing the right advice, tailored to suit your needs. You can get in touch by giving us a call on 0808 252 9170.

Alternatively, you can calculate  how much equity you could release online with our free, easy-to-use calculator.

Back to "What's in this guide?"

Read our equity release articles

Equity release isn't something you should rush into. Read our RetireWise articles to learn more about how it works and whether it's right for you.

How does equity release work?


How long does equity release take?

Is equity release safe?

Page last updated: Monday 01 July 2024